On Saturday 20 April, 2013 the first UK conference on Kundalini called Kundalini Matters: Science, Psychosis or Serpent was held in regal surroundings at the Brighton Dome in Brighton UK. 65 interested people came to hear seven experienced and expert speakers share their knowledge and experience around Kundalini and spiritual awakening.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny. In December 2011, I first had inner guidance to put on this conference and every morning since that time my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night turned around the event. I have never done anything of that scale, so it was far outside of my comfort zone, but I felt a strong inner compulsion to do it and I put my fears to one side and forged ahead. When I was planning it in December 2011, I had no idea that 2013 was going to be the Year of the Snake, which is also the symbol for Kundalini. I didn't realize it was the Year of the Snake until the day before the Chinese New Year when I heard it on the radio.
The title for the conference reflected my own experience with this energy. I have written about being right brain dominant and as a result feel that there is a scientific link between this energy rising and right brain development. This hypothesis of mine has yet to be proved scientifically, but it feels right to me. In the weeks and months following Kundalini rising I remember being quite manic, convinced that there was a conspiracy around this energy and it was a big secret that all the religions were hiding. That was my brush with psychosis or mental instability. Then came the Serpent while I was on a Buddhist meditation retreat, where I lived a profound experience with this energy. I also teach Kundalini yoga.
The seven speakers were all chosen because of their familiarity with various aspects of Kundalini. The first two speakers addressed the serpent. Shiv Charan Singh, the founding director of the Karam Kriya School of Kundalini Yoga, spoke about mastering the serpent and drew on his own experience as well as yogic philosophy to explain the serpent energy. Kwali Kumara, who pioneered healing with snakes, spoke about the serpent as the symbol of enlightenment. To mark 2013 as the Year of the Snake she also brought two pythons that she took out of their basket and invited anybody scared of snakes to come forward and hold them to mitigate their fear. One woman did this and to see her delight as she transformed her fear was very moving.
Research is part of science and Steve Taylor, the author of two books on spiritual awakening and energy, gave a talk called "energy and awakening." He spoke about different kinds of awakening and the way energy manifests in each from his research.
JJ Semple, a familiar name to readers of this blog, spoke about activating Kundalini in a safe, permanent and repeatable fashion and he talked about the backward-flowing method, a technique used in this practice. Speaking from his own experience, JJ had everyone engaged. He provided a service to those thinking about intentionally raising Kundalini by asking them to think what living with an awakened Kundalini might be like.
Addressing the mental health aspects of Kundalini - the fact that Kundalini awakenings are sometimes mistaken for psychosis - were two speakers from the Spiritual Crisis Network, an organisation that promotes understanding and offers support for those going through profound a personal transformation. Frances Goodall, an integrative alternative health practitioner, gave a talk on her experience of Kundalini rising on a Buddhist meditation retreat and her story resonated so much with my own. Isabel Clarke, a director of the Spiritual Crisis Network as well as a consultant clinical psychologist, spoke about making sense of the experience and what might be happening in the grey area between a Kundalini awakening and mental instability. She spoke about two ways of knowing.
The final speaker, Sarah Culliford works as a psychiatric nurse. She gave a raw and moving account of her own journey with Kundalini, painting a vividly humorous picture about her believing she was the Virgin Mary about to give birth to Jesus and how she pulled herself out of this delusion to become the grounded and integrated woman she is today.
The contributions from every speaker were valuable and useful and those present were interested and engaged. Questions were asked and insights were expressed and it was an inspirational and powerful day for everyone. What was great for me was waking up on Sunday morning with no thought in my mind, just a deep feeling of joy and bliss at having done something I wasn't quite sure I could do. Having done it I now know that ANYTHING is possible. It is so true what Napoleon Hill said in his book Law of Success "what the mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve."
Writing this now, I don't intend to do another conference because the first of anything is special and can't be repeated, but my hope is that someone else will be inspired to do onenext year and that the idea is taken on to different countries so awareness of Kundalini can grow. In the Year of the Snake, Kundalini is a phenomenon whose time has come.